Asian skiers discover Megève
Skiing and guided ski tours in the heart of the French Alps
Recently many inquiries have come to my attention for lesson requests and information on skiing the French Alps. Indeed a few skiers from Asian countries particularly Hong Kong and Japan have come and visited Megève and Chamonix and the ski areas in the nearby Italian Alps, this past season.
To my happy surprise these are very pleasant and well informed experienced ski tourists who are amazed by the diversity of geographical and climatic change within a very narrow confine as in the distance between Geneva International Airport and the Megève-Chamonix-Mont Blanc triangle. It is often a choice of mine to have these clients visit Courmayeur and Cervinia all in the Italian Alps, and all less than a 2 hour drive from Megève. It will surely not be long before many mainland Chinese come to visit our wonderful Alps.
Megève is well known by few and is a jealously guarded secret among those that frequent its ski slopes; Michelin Guide rated restaurants, high-end shopping stores, Casino and quaint narrow cobbled streets. The village is dominated by the traditional church belfry, and a square all in a pedestrian friendly atmosphere. Horse drawn sleighs carry tourists all over during the peak periods adding a festive and memorable experience for young and old.
The ski area is laid out in such a way that the summit of Mont Blanc is almost always in view when skiing Megève ski runs. The runs are cut through the trees; a very welcome change to most ski areas in the Alps that are above the “tree line”, adding a touch of green to this Haute-Savoyard village! Great skiing for all levels with a particularly pleasing predominance of upper intermediate skiing terrain.
The “Espace Mont Blanc” domain is a whopping 445 Km and with over 111 lifts make Megève and partner ski areas (la Giettaz, Saint Gervais, Saint Nicolas de Veroce, Combloux, les Contamines Montjoie and Cordon) in the top 6 longest skiable areas in France. I often bring clients on a beautiful day to see and ski what I think is the best vantage point to view the French Alps and the Mont Blanc:
The most scenic views of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western-Europe, are visible from the top of the “Epaule” chairlift of the Megève Ski Area. From the top of this chair lift you will want to turn immediately left to stay on the piste, a right turn will take you immediately off piste! You should be a good intermediate skier to do this run, in several places it is quite narrow and in whiteout conditions not advised at all. However on a brilliant sunny day you will want to look around you and make a visual picture that even the best of cameras could never capture….the whole of the French Alps in all their beauty right before your eyes! After taking it all in, its time to ski all the way down to Chatrix, the longest of runs in the domain.
….But don’t tell anyone how nice it is!
If you are flying in to ski the French Alps and Megeve you have the following possibilities. Chambery Airport, Geneva Airport and Grenoble Airport are all a little over one hour’s drive away. This makes Megève a highly accessible ski destination, even for a long weekend, from any airport in the UK. Leave the UK at 08:00 and you’re on the pistes by 12:00 noon. Be aware that the above can vary depending upon traffic and weather conditions.
Driving: From Geneva you will go to the A40 direction Mont Blanc/Chamonix and turn off at Sallanches and about 17 kilometers direction Albertville, to Megeve.
Driving: In the event of bad weather: If you drive from Grenoble and Chambéry, direction A 41- E712, to Annecy/Geneva/La Roche sur Foron and get on the A40 direction Mont Blanc/Chamonix and turn off at Sallanches and about 17 kilometers direction Albertville, to Megève.
Good weather alternative: If you drive from Grenoble: A 41- E712 to the A 430 direction Albertville. Take the N212 at Albertville up the beautiful “Gorges de Arly” to Megève. Please note however that this route can be closed due to rock and mud slides and traffic can be a problem!
Mike Beaudet a Colorado native lives in France with his wife and twin boys Tom and Lucas. Known as “Megeve Mike”, he is the founder of Ski Pros Megeve. Megève is located in French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc, a 1 hour drive from Geneva International Airport. Day ski tours, private and small group ski lessons for skiing enthusiasts of all levels and ages are available in the French Alps, Italian Alps and Europe.
Mike has an extensive background in skiing, teaching group and private ski lessons. Mikes credentials include Full Certification in Professional Ski Instructors of America-RM, the prestigious French Government “Ecole National de Ski et d’Alpinisme” in Chamonix as a Moniteur de Ski Diplome and a member of the first PSIA National Academy held at Mount. Hood Timberline, Oregon. Mike has over 30 years of ski school and ski teaching and coaching experience in the US and in France and has taught in all the major ski areas in France and America.
http://www.geocities.com/mikeskifrance/ - “Better Skiing Starts Here”
Copyright © 2006 Megeve Mike - All Rights Reserved Worldwide and forever.
Posted by Megeve Mike
on Monday, 11 September, 2006 at 05:20 AM
I heard that 100 Chinese skiers came to La Plagne this year over the Christmas period and that 1,000 should come next year for the same period. They are experienced skiers who learnt on the numerous small resorts of China but are attracted to French alpine extensive resorts. One of the concerns however was a possible lack of communication: if the French don’t speak Chinese they don’t seem to speak much English either which could be a problem for the long term development of Chinese tourism in France. Apparently one of the ski instructors has courageously started learning Chinese.
Posted by on Sunday, 07 January, 2007 at 11:10 PM
How would you rate the Alps vs. the Colorado Rockies? I saw a comparison mentioned at the link below and was hoping to get an expert opinion.
Posted by on Wednesday, 03 September, 2008 at 03:22 AM
Difference for me between Vail and Megeve,
When I was a kid growing up in Maine I wanted to do one thing… that was to ski in every ski area that I could dream of. The Rocky Mountains was a must and so was Europe and especially France (for me). During my University years, I taught on weekends in Breckenridge. After graduating from the University Of Denver I taught in Vail for 5 seasons (Gold Peak and Mid Vail) as a full time private lesson instructor.
I must say that skiing and working in Vail was the best in those days 1970 to 1976 and I’m sure that it has not changed ... I’m talking about the quality of skiing and the snow, that is. I thought that skiing the “back bowls” was the best thing since “sliced bread” and with snowflakes the size of a quarter, it was out of this world. Especially in deep and ultra light powder due to the cold dry weather coming down from the North.
The quality of the runs and the snow cat crews, who are up at all hours of the night to make them like a “ballroom” floor were and I’m sure are still among the world’s best.
Remember that Vail was incorporated in 1962 and in those days the people that bought a lot in the center paid something like $25,000. and got a life time pass for themselves and family.
Like everywhere, things have changed the buildings are let’s say “new-old alpine with a European flavor”. The valley is developed to the “hilt”! The last time I drove through, everything was lit up like a Xmas tree from Minturn to East Vail and the Pass.
I have been out of Colorado for over 21 seasons and I now teach and run a Private Independent Ski School in Megeve, France.
The difference is for me in the uniqueness of the experience. Americans given the opportunity to fly the 6 and a half hours that it takes to get over to Geneva and drive 1 hour, will find a skiing/village/food atmosphere that is like none back home (in my humble opinion).
Megeve still to this date has over 40 family operated farms where some of the best cheese to be had is made. Yes you can even visit the cooperative and taste the different kinds!
There are so many little places all over the mountains, valleys, hills and slopes… they are called “pistes” here. Yes indeed, the kind of places that you get an incredible “home cooked” meal at and a bottle of wine for two for a reasonable amount.
All in the same day you even ski from one valley and spend the night in a small authentic Alpine Hotel, three valleys away and ski back the next day. The “pistes” are just as nice and are just as well packed by some of the best snow cat drivers anywhere.
The Village of Megeve, is over a thousand years old, has cobbled streets and even horse drawn sleighs. No cars here. French three star Hotels and Restaurants so you can really have the treat of your life.
From Megeve there are 6 ski areas within a 15 to 30 minute drive! And they are all different.
I often take clients from Megeve and ski the Italian Alps ... it’s only a one hour drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, the Mont Blanc is the highest point in Europe. If you drive another hour you can ski in both the Swiss and Italian Alps at 3883 meters high, and for picture taking the Matterhorn and glaciers all around you.
There is even more, some of my American and UK clients fly (1 hour from London) into Geneva where we pick them up at the airport and we start the season as of November 1st, with our “Early Bird trips” until the 20th of December, In the Swiss, Italian or French Alps.
Ski passes are 1/3 of the current Vail cost and private ski lessons including “off piste” read “out of bounds"… its legal here, however you had better go with a Full Certified French Ski Instructor otherwise you can put your life at risk in an avalanche or ski off a cliff, and die!
From a my point of view I would always go back and ski with clients in the Rockies it is beautiful however it is always interesting to see what people think when they have been here and seen what it is all about… and that it does not cost more and takes about the same time to get to when it’s all said and done for someone coming from the East Coast. They always come back.
I hope this helped.
All the best,
Posted by Mike Beaudet
on Wednesday, 03 September, 2008 at 08:15 PM
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